Tampa Bay Buccaneers: O.J. Howard versus Cameron Brate
By Rob Leeds
The Buccaneers need to evaluate O.J. Howard versus Cameron Brate.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are set on the tight end front for now, but present evaluations will play a large role in salary cap considerations, play time, and future implications for the roster. Rob Gronkowski is the clear-cut TE1 for now, but the Bucs still need to figure out the direction they want to go with O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate.
Howard versus Brate is the age-old debate in sports; ability versus availability. The adage goes “you can’t make the club in the tub,” meaning injured players don’t win championships, but is there more to this?
Since 2015, Brate has only missed three total games. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, since 2017, Howard has missed 22 games. While no one would deny that Howard is clearly the better player, the injuries have been a significant cause for concern during his career.
For a team like the Buccaneers that can’t afford to pay three starting-caliber tight ends during a year where the salary cap is lower than usual, they have to determine which is more important; ability or availability.
No one would deny that Howard’s ceiling is much higher than Brate’s. With incredible size, speed, and the ability to catch the ball and block, Howard is the perfect tight end on the physical side of the eval. Dropped passes were a concern for Howard at times, but overall, there is still a bright future ahead if he can stay healthy.
Brate, on the other hand, is nothing special physically or as a blocker. As a decent red-zone threat with the track record to rely on, Brate is great in the secondary role, but we have likely already witnessed his peak.
Given the fact that the Bucs have Howard on the roster for one more season to determine if an extension is viable, one would assume that he is still the second guy in 2021 when he returns from injury. The injury pattern that has followed Howard indicates that he will be healthy for more of next season than not, and a featured role as the second tight end will show Jason Licht and the coaching staff everything they need to know for the future.
Cameron Brate is still a good tight end with a history of helping the Bucs out when it counts, but his age, ceiling, and price tag make him a better trade option than TE2 on this roster.
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